Breaking News
More () »

These are the layers to the US' national gun debate

One advocate says the nation can pass mental health and gun reform: it doesn't have to be one or the other.

ATLANTA — There are growing calls for lawmakers to take action to stop gun violence in the wake of the massacre Tuesday in Uvalde, Texas. Right now, the U.S. Senate is considering measures that would expand background checks on gun resales and would make the wait longer to get a gun.

It's unlikely these measures will pass, as gun control has traditionally met strong resistance even after mass shootings, legislation patterns show. Supporters of gun reform argue lobbyists have a strong influence over lawmakers. Repeatedly, proposals have failed to pass Congress. 

Former President Donald Trump banned bump stocks about a year after the Las Vegas shooting in 2017 under the Justice Department. Tuesday night, President Biden called for "common sense gun reform" in response to the latest shooting in Texas. 

Andy Pelosi, executive director of the Campaign to Keep Guns off Campus, said he would like to see a ban on military-style weapons and high capacity magazines, along with more comprehensive background checks on resales and more resources for schools to prevent future shootings. 

“There’s no need for this," Pelosi said. "This carnage in America has got to stop. It’s not the panacea in my view, but it’s an important piece to this puzzle.”

Pelosi noted a study that found states with weaker gun control laws saw 22% more gun-related homicides than states with stronger gun control laws. He proposes states adopt more laws that would flag people deemed a danger to themselves or others and advocate for safer gun storage.

RELATED: How to help the Uvalde community affected by the school shooting

Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) has been in Congress during the debates over gun control. He was on the same baseball field when fellow lawmaker Rep. Steve Scalise was shot by a gunman in 2017. Loudermilk argued guns were not the problem and pointed to mental health, instituting technological and environmental safeguards and properly and continually training armed security to protect places like schools from future mass shootings.

"There’s only one person to blame for this act of violence, and it’s that evil person who walked into that school and started killing innocent children," Loudermilk said. "That is the only blame that needs to go. It doesn’t need to be Republicans, Democrats; It’s the person who caused this. If a person is going to carry out an evil deed, they will do it. If their intent is to do it, and they want to do it with a gun, they’ll find an illegal way to acquire that gun.”

RELATED: Uvalde school shooting: What we know about the victims

Loudermilk believes the nation is dealing with a cultural problem that has propagated mass shootings. He said Americans need to set a new course of action to respect life, laws and freedoms of others more. His fellow Georgia Republican congressman, Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA), introduced the Behavioral Intervention Guidelines Act in 2021 to address violence in schools. 

“The tragic event in Uvalde yesterday was an act of pure evil against innocent lives, and my prayers go out to the children, their families, the teachers, and the entire community,” Ferguson said. “Now more than ever, it is so important that we act to improve access across our country to high quality, evidence-based mental health care services in order to prevent these tragedies from occurring. We must provide students with the opportunity to thrive in a secure environment and ensure those approaching a crisis point get the resources they need to lead healthy, productive lives. This essential legislation would develop best practices for schools to properly use and implement behavioral intervention teams. These are experts who are responsible for identifying individuals of concern and who can address associated behavioral and emotional health issues to reduce distress, provide support, and prevent harm to the individual and/or others. In the face of this senseless tragedy, I call on the Senate to pass this legislation immediately.”

RELATED: 'We weep with you' | Georgia leaders offer their hearts, condolences following Texas elementary school shooting

Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) issued a statement while meeting with the Prime Minister of New Zealand Wednesday. 

"We need to change," Ossoff said. "We have to reform our laws to keep weapons out of the hands of killers. And we have to heal our national soul so that this doesn’t keep happening and can never feel routine; this is not routine." 

Courtney Spriggs leads the Georgia Chapter of Moms Demand Action, a gun-control advocacy organization. She described Tuesday's tragedy as devastating and enraging. Spriggs said despite historical resistance, she draws strength from survivors to keep fighting for gun reform.

"America, uniquely, allows access for people with mental health and rage issues to have guns easily," Spriggs said. "I think we can pass common sense gun legislation and act on mental health. We can provide more resources for mental health for people who need it. It’s not taken as a top priority in America and neither is gun violence. We can do both."



Before You Leave, Check This Out